Our Little Haven began as a dream of Scott and Kathleen Hummel at the beginning of 1989. After networking with hundreds of social service and medical providers, it was decided that the need was great and Our Little Haven began to take shape. After turning to family and friends, a Board of Directors was formed using the extraordinary talents of close friends. Bill Newbold took the helm as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Our Little Haven opened her doors for these very special kids in March 1993 with Mary Crook working hard to get underway.
In June of 1994, the leadership of OLH began strategic analysis to respond to the growing need of OLH services. A five-year plan was adopted and set into action. In May of 1995, several opportunities arose to allow OLH to act towards expansion. A new building, next door to the original facility, was purchased and renovated to function as the Administration/Support Building. The third floor of the original building was renovated and put into the facility plans. Collaborations were formed with several groups and the Board of Regents, a non-voting arm of the Board of Directors who is called upon for direction, advice, and support, were elected.
Also in 1994, Our Little Haven entered into a relationship with the Junior Chamber of Commerce (The Jaycees) on a national level with the Jaycees using the program model of OLH to establish similar programs in other states. In consideration of this, the Jaycees provided OLH with an annual contribution collected and gifted by the individual Jaycee chapters across the country. While the formal relationship has expired, there are five programs established across the country based on the OLH model.
By December of 1995, OLH could provide treatment for 24 children at any one time and initiated two new programs – foster care recruitment and training and pediatric AIDS respite. Since inception, OLH has served over 150 children and families. The tragedy is that OLH has had to turn away over 200 children due to capacity limitations. This was also the year that Mike Bahlinger joined the team – an old friend and Director, Mike brought his financial expertise to the organization as well as his steady and careful planning process.
In 1996, another strategic plan was initiated, which resulted in a third building – the Baby Building. This renovated facility became home for 20 children ages birth through 2 – 2 ½ years. At the same time, the original residential building was also renovated allowing for 20 of the “older” children. The strategic plan formulated in early 1996 included plans for a $1.2 million dollar capital campaign which was initiated in June 1996 and completed in December 1996.
1n 1998, a second phase of the strategic plan highlighted the celebration of the mission; a mission effectiveness process; and, the identification of the core values, which drive the mission.
In early 2000, OLH began an initiative to impact families in a non-traditional method through the Our Family Care Program. This program will allow OLH to impact many families allowing the “at risk” child the opportunity to thrive at home.
In 2001, Our Little Haven designed and implemented the Taylor Family Care Center, a natural extension of our current programs and a good fit with the Mission. The Taylor Family Care Center is designed to include the children’s’ families is a part of our mission to provide the best possible quality care for our children. Our safety net now included treatment systems for children and families.
The Taylor Family Care Center was developed to help families in crisis, help keep children safe from abuse, and move crisis children and families through the care system and into permanent and stable situations. The Taylor family of Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company provided a generous gift allowing for the implementation of this newer program. The building was purchased in February 2001 and after renovation, the Taylor Family Care Center staff expanded to the OLH Family Care Center facility in August 2001. This facility is a one-hundred-year-old building and is only 1½ blocks from the other facilities.
In 2003, Our Little Haven initiated the Keystone Program. The Keystone is designed to facilitate, assess, and initiate mental health diagnostic testing/screening, treatment plans and actual treatment for young children and families.
In early 2005, several agencies formed the St. Louis Partners in response to the State of Missouri’s call for assistance with the growing number of children and families in the system. A partnership was formed after several months of negotiation and due diligence. Of the twenty-five vendors vying for the new state contract, the St. Louis Partners were one of three collaboratives selected affirming the collective programs as vital and successful.
In late 2005, Our Little Haven opened Our Little Academy, a therapeutic pre-school designed to work with special needs children who can not participate in a traditional pre-school setting. Our Little Academy allows the early intervention model to be implemented in a unique venue. The focus of the learning and healing is on both the child and the family and each family is required to make a commitment to weekly counseling and training sessions with the staff and child.
In early 2007, the OLH Whole Family Program was initiated by aligning community resources to better serve children under the age of 10 with mental health disorders.
In 2008, after 16 months of effort, analysis, and design, OLH was granted accreditation from the Council on Accreditation, which identifies OLH as using the highest quality of services and state of the art social service provision.
In early 2009, Our Little Haven began planning for an endowment fundraising campaign. Called The Courage Fund to represent the courage of both the children and staff, leadership engaged a feasibility study and contracted with a development consultant. A goal of raising $2,000,000 by 2011 was established which would double the current endowment fund assuring long-term stability and a mission-driven legacy.
In January 2011, the Courage Fund Goal of $2,000,000 was met through a single contribution through a St. Louis family trust. This generous gift is the single largest gift OLH has experienced. The Courage Fund was then firmly established as a fund to be governed by the Directors and Regents. An Investment Committee was elected, an Investment Policy was established and the funds were invested per the Policy.
In July 2011, OLH was featured in an article in People Magazine as well as in other national publications. The articles were stories of the children’s journey from “throw-away” kids to dynamic, healthy, young people. OLH adopted a “look at what we’ve all done together” theme to help celebrate.
In March 2012, the OLH leadership initiated discussions in regards to the viability of the Residential Program. After numerous discussions, the Board of Directors made the decision that based on stewardship issues and unsustainable underwriting; OLH was to evolve away from Residential Treatment. In May 2012, the last child in Residential Treatment successfully left the program for permanency. Director Mark Mager noted, “Having been involved with OLH for almost 20 years, I know change and evolution are in Our Little Haven’s DNA. This is simply another example of identifying creative opportunities to serve even more children.”
In June 2012, Operation Creative Care was initiated to help identify the next trail to blaze. Creative Care was a successful opportunity for leadership staff to convene to discuss options for growth.
After several months of meetings, three critical opportunities came to fruition:
- Medical Case Management was identified as a need in the community. The national trend was to close gaps in medical care for children in foster care and information sharing between multiple providers. OLH’s response was to facilitate and manage health and dental care for the children in the Partnership’s care.
- A contract with the St. Louis Public School system was exacted to facilitate OLH services, through Our Little Academy, for those at-risk children identified by the education system as having special needs. This relationship allowed for OLA’s growth and an increase in the number of children served.
- In the state’s efforts to continue privatization of the child welfare system, the Partnership was again recognized as a leader in the provision of child welfare and OLH experienced a 22% growth in the number of children served through the foster care system.
In 2013, co-founder Kathleen Hummel was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from St. Louis University’s Women’s Commission. Programmatically, the Keystone Program was identified as one of six “high performing” programs through the St. Louis Mental Health Board. With the evolution away from Residential came more space available for the other programs. In July 2013, the Keystone Staff moved to 4326 Lindell allowing Keystone staff and OLA staff the opportunity to use the available space. In August 2013, OLH welcomed the newest Key Staff employee as Chris Munoz joined the cause. Chris works with the fundraising and development side of the programs. His youthful enthusiasm allowed for growth and change as he also values the Mission and brings talents to make a good thing even better. Chris came with a bitter-sweet process as long time employee Maggie Beal retired after close to 20 years of service at Our Little Haven.
With the programmatic changes came decisions from the Board of Directors regarding Governance. After numerous discussions, the Leadership updated the By-Laws and Constitution to better reflect governing practices. The result was that all “Directors” became “Trustees” and from the Trustees, nine “Executive Board of Directors” were elected and would act as the governing body.
2014 brought a sense of renewal and re-invigoration as the key staff entered into a strategic planning process. The organization contracted with a local planning group, Collaborative Strategies, to design a long-term plan to help make OLH even better. After several meetings, a plan was designed as well as an “action plan” to make the process valuable, efficient and effective. The PQI Program incorporated the Strategic Plan process and the systems focused on accountability and make a good thing even better. The Priorities identified were:
- Further strengthen program effectiveness
- Improve internal operations and management effectiveness
- Develop organizational capacity and capability
- Enhance community awareness of OLH’s impact
The Plan identified several Measures of success as well as a Picture of the Future. In addition, the Mission, Values, and Vision Statements were all re-affirmed and emphasized for the community’s invitation to assist.
Unfortunately, 2014 also brought the passing of an old friend, volunteer and staff member as Judy Combs passed away. OLH was invited to memorialize Judy at her funeral service and a memorial garden has been planted at Our Little Haven.
2015 continued the growth process as critical staff positions were designed, implemented and put into place. An Assistant Director of Clinical Programs, Clinical Psychologist, and Case Manger positions were all created and filled while other positions already in place but vacant were filled. There were also tremendous amounts of time and energy directed at three critical components: the renewals of the St. Louis County, St. Louis City and Foster Care contracts were all completed in mid-summer. In addition, the Taylor Family gifted OLH a $1,000,000 gift which was a wonderful surprise!
Some things remain constant at Our Little Haven:
- Our willingness and ability to care for kids and families who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance
- Our invitation to the community to help serve these children
- Our “early intervention” approach to caring
- Our belief in the Cookie Jar approach
- Our need to care for the caregivers
- Our continuing efforts to make a good thing even better
- Our Core Team
- Our Leadership
The leadership of Our Little Haven is strong and passionate. The Board of Trustees is made up of caring people who bring numerous talents to Our Little Haven. Many met while attending Rockhurst University in Kansas City and all have remained dear friends. With a strong belief in continuity at the highest level, William Newbold (Institutional Services – JP Morgan) continues to be the Chair of the Board of Trustees. Our Board represents many communities – the legal, health, accounting, marketing, social service, sales, and religious aspects of life are found on our Board.
The core team at Our Little Haven is our Executive Director, Director of Finance and Operations, Therapeutic Director, Director of Clinical Programs. P. Scott Hummel, Ph.D., MSW, is the Executive Director and focuses his attention on the administrative and institutional development. Michael Bahlinger, CPA, is the Director of Finance and Operations and is responsible for the administration of the day-to-day operations. Lizette Smith, Ph.D., is the Director of Clinical Programs and is responsible for the daily therapeutic care of the children and families. Kathleen A. Hummel, Ph.D., MSW, is the Therapeutic Director, an honorary position designed to reflect Kathleen’s vision and work for the at-risk children in the community.